The following is a guest post by Stephen Burns, who is a trend follower that specializes in momentum trading utilizing the Darvas System. You can connect with him on twitter and facebook.

The difference between traders that rely on their instincts and chart reading abilities and those who are pure system traders.

Discretionary Traders…

  • …trade information flow.
  • …are trying to anticipate what the market will do.
  • …are subjective; they read their own opinions and past experiences into the current market action.
  • …trade what they want and have loose rules to govern their trading.
  • …are usually very emotional in their trading and taking their losses personally because their opinion was wrong and their ego is hurt.
  • …use many different indicators to trade at different times. Sometimes it may be macro economic indicators, chart patterns, or even macroeconomic news. They are very “flavor of the month” in that regards.
  • … generally have a very small watch list of stocks and markets to trade based mostly off the time on their expertise of the markets they trade.

Systematic Traders…

  • …trade price flow.
  • …are participating in what the market is doing.
  • …are objective. They have no opinion about the market and are following what the market is actually doing, i.e. following that trend.
  • …have few but very strict and defined rules to govern their entries and exits, risk management, and position size.
  • …are unemotional because when they lose it is simply that the market was not conducive to their system. They know that they will win over the long term.
  • …always use the exact same technical indicators for their entries and exits. They never change them.
  • …trade many markets and are trading their technical system based on prices and trends so they do not need to be an expert on the fundamentals.

While discretionary traders are busy trying to digest what fundamental news and information mean, systematic traders are taking the signals they are getting from actual price movement in the market. Systematic traders are not thinking and predicting what the market is going to do, they are reacting to what the majority is doing based on their predetermined system’s entry signals.

For the average trader being a 100% Mechanical System Trader usually maximizes the chance of success in the markets, especially if you are using a historically proven profitable system. If you are removing the emotions and ego out of your trading and are controlling your risk of ruin with proper trade size and stop losses, then you have probability on your side of joining the consistently profitable traders in the market.

Now what sort of trader do you want to be?

Related Posts:

The Little Book of Trading: Trend Following

Michael Covel’s Trend Commandments

We All Need High Probability Trading Strategies

One Response to “Discretionary Traders Vs Systematic Traders”

  1. bobzus Says:

    thanks for sharing the great post! although it sounds simple its always good to have a reminder. i think i’ll print this one out and read it before every trade i put on. =]

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